Major League Soccer hit back at Antonio Conte for his “ignorant, gratuitous use of a tired cliché” in refusing to call Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco.
“We evaluated Pirlo and Giovinco, it’s normal that if you choose to go and play there then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms,” said Conte.
Today the Editor-in-Chief of the official MLS website, MLSSoccer.com, hit back at the Azzurri boss.
“When Italian national team head coach Antonio Conte made his decision on Monday to leave Andrea Pirlo and reigning MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco off his Euro 2016 roster, it was a purely subjective evaluation – a question of taste and style, which Conte obviously has the prerogative to make,” wrote Simon Borg.
“But for Conte to turn what was a personal decision into a statement of fact on Tuesday that "if you choose to go and play there then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms" is an ignorant move, a gratuitous dig and the perpetuation of a tired soccer cliché.
“And frankly, I expect better from the soccer-sophisticated Italians, who by the way have struggled against MLS-heavy US squads over the last 15 years (including a 1-1 draw at the 2006 World Cup) – the same MLS-heavy US squads who continue to win international acclaim at World Cups.
“What exactly did Conte's technical staff, which supposedly scouted both Pirlo and Giovinco for seven days, come up with to prove that MLS had a detrimental effect on their international careers? What data or observations did their technical report contain? Why not share it?
“And how does it account for the fact that the "MLS effect" hadn't quite taken hold of Giovinco last October, when he was good enough to clinch qualification for Italy to the Euros by coming off the bench to be the catalyst in the Azzurri's come-from-behind win vs. Norway?
“Imagine what a surprise it'll be when Conte finds out that the other European players in MLS with a legitimate shot of making the Euros actually made their team: Montreal's Laurent Ciman (Belgium), Colorado's Shkelzen Gashi (Albania) and Ireland's Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) and Kevin Doyle(Colorado Rapids), who happen to face Conte's Italy in the third and final Group E match on June 22 in Lille (And wouldn't that be an interesting twist of fate if Keane or Doyle had something to do with a potential Italian ouster?).
“Look, MLS is not helped by the fact that outside of CONCACAF Champions League, it doesn't participate in regular international competition that could help change perception. But there's also this: Couldn't Conte have simply done without the jab?
“Couldn't he just have left it that he picked Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne over Giovinco? Or that it was a technical decision to leave Pirlo out?
“Yet he had to go for the cliché dig at MLS. Coming from a manager labeled as "provincial" in his own country because he's failed to win in Europe, that was as provincial a statement as they come.”
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